Mr. Motown

Browse Song Catalog: GMR

Smokey Robinson


Wrote over 1,000 songs over career spanning 70 years

* Smokey Robinson was also the 2005 recipient of The Johnny Mercer Award, the SHOF’s highest honor

Legendary Grammy winner, Smokey Robinson is the only man in musical history to simultaneously be in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and honored by NARAS as a "Living Legend."

In many respects, Smokey Robinson, writer of over 1,000 songs, qualifies for the title, "Mr. Motown." The celebrated Detroit native played a key role in helping transform the motor city and the record company named after it, into an international center popular music.

Robinson's hit recordings, with his wonderful and memorable vocal group, The Miracles, while produced in Detroit with that very recognizable Motown sound, cross all contemporary boundaries and cultures. Motown was pop music, the kind that dominated best-selling and radio performance charts. For much of that period of the early 60s and 70s, Smokey Robinson was the inspiration for and creator of the biggest songs of the day.

Since the age of six, Robinson has been writing music. His initial success came as a first-grader writing a song for an elementary school play. With this one slight taste of success under his belt, Robinson continued writing, after the nightly demands of homework had been met, until three years later, as a teenager, he had the good fortune of an accidental meeting with Berry Gordy, Jr., the founder and head of Motown Records. Gordy became the producer for Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, and the combination of talents resulted in many hit recordings, including "Way Over There," the first record released on the Motown subsidiary label, Tamla Records, and "Shop Around," which went to number one on all national charts.

Across the years, Robinson's writing efforts resulted in a bevy of major hits for The Miracles, like "I Second That Emotion," "Going to a Go Go," "You Really Got a Hold on Me," "Tears of a Clown," and one of the most memorable, "The Tracks of My Tears."

But writing for The Miracles ultimately became a kind of springboard for other songwriting successes. Robinson is well-remembered for "My Guy" and "Two Lovers" for Mary Wells; "The Way You Do the Things You Do," for the remarkable and enduring Temptations; "Ain't That Peculiar" and I'll Be Doggone," for the late Marvin Gaye; and "Don't Mess with Bill" and "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," for The Marvelettes.

Honored with SHOF’s highest accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award, in 2005, and National Medal of the Arts in 2002